It’s been a rough couple of years for the Houston Astros. They’ve gone from a team constantly battling for the N-L Central crown to a team that’s fighting to avoid last place. Believe it or not, there could be a bright future ahead at Minute Maid Park.
The youth movement is in effect in Houston, so naturally there will be bumps in the road and bad records. However, they are stockpiling on young talent, with some already wearing the big boy’s uniform.
The one bright spot this season has been the play of All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve, all 5-foot-5 inches of him. The 22-year old currently leads all N-L second baseman in hits, coming in at 96 hits at the break. A popular player with Astros Nation, there’s even a website where you can measure feet and distance in “Altuves”.
Third baseman Chris Johnson and outfielders J. D. Martinez and Justin Maxwell look like future stars in the lineup and on the field. They hit for power, and are learning how to hit better for average. The bullpen, nicknamed The Regulators, have been solid, as have some of the younger arms in the starting rotation like Lucas Harrell and Jordan Lyles. And the Astros had a good draft class this season, highlighted by first overall pick Carlos Correa, a shortstop who has drawn comparisons to Alex Rodriguez with his bat and arm.
The problem so far is the Astros inability to hit. They’ve already had a perfect game thrown against them earlier this season by San Francisco’s Matt Cain, and it seems like there are too many close calls of being no-hit. Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell ain’t walking through that door.
It may take a little while for the Astros to get back to the World Series form of the past. To do so, they will have to go through their in-state rival, the Texas Rangers, as both will be in the A-L West next season. By the way, the Rangers are the two-time defending A-L champs and currently have the best record in baseball, so it’s not going to be easy. The love affair the state had with the Astros during their 2005 World Series run has now moved to Arlington with the Rangers. If anything, the regular season series should be fun to watch.
So there may be problems now, but with the young players getting more experience and possibly a couple of moves here and there, the star may be shining bright in Houston before too long.
Written by C. James